Freedom is never comfortable

Published 6:34 am Saturday, July 7, 2018

By Michael Cole

I have had a bit of time to reflect on the 4th of July.

Of course, as Americans, we see it as a chance to barbeque, set off enough fireworks to reenact the Normandy Invasion, and to take time to celebrate our Independence.

Most of all, it is a chance to celebrate the freedoms and rights we all enjoy as Americans.

Unfortunately, we seem to today to fixate on one or two rights, and then to go a step further and feel that those rights are negotiable for when we are not in agreement.

That thought remains a dangerous position to take on civil liberty and individual freedom.

I doubt many on either side of this political coin will like this, but it needs saying.

Neither side, liberal or conservative, shows the commitment to our values that it deserves.

I will repeat this.

When it comes to civil liberties and freedoms, hypocrisy spans the political spectrum.

I must admit, that even I have to stop myself from wanting to indulge in this pastime of political posturing and thought.

So, let me share with you a few observations for Independence Day and American freedom.

The freedom of expression and speech.

Americans on both sides are guilty of this. Too many times we want to limit the rights of those that we do not agree. We rationalize it under many different categories: respect, traditions, honor, and many times just because they offend our sensibilities.

When it comes down to it, the words “triggered,” and “snowflake,” easily are universally applied.

Conservatives who taunt Liberal for their hair-trigger over certain statements, find themselves triggered.

Case in point, kneeling NFL players at football games.

We might not like it, we most likely will call it as offensive; but the freedom of protest and expression are cornerstones to the First Amendment. Kaepernick had and has just as much right to kneel in protest as anyone else has not to watch an NFL game.

Like it or hate it, he has that right.

Freedom of Religion.

Talking about the subject of religious freedom for anyone will always seem a little harder than herding cattle through a minefield. No matter what, someone gets set off, and tempers flare like the temperature gauge in a July summer day in Brownsville.

To the liberal factions, people have the right to worship as they please and to believe in whatever god they wish. To the conservative factions, that does not just mean the worship of the same god’s as your faith.

You might hate Islam, but Muslims have the right to worship.

You might find Christianity offensive, but Christians need that same freedom of worship.

Atheists have the same right not to worship.

Today we hide our fears and bigotry behind faith. It has to stop.

Yes, some terrorists are Muslim; but not all Muslims are terrorists. Remember a quarter century ago the deadliest terrorist attack in London came at the hands of Catholic Irish Republican Army Terrorists, not Al Qaeda or ISIS.

And before people start digging up Youtube videos of clerics calling for death to all infidels, there are also videos of Pastors calling for the extermination of all Homosexuals. Ann Coulter even once went as far as to say we should bomb the Middle East and convert the survivors to Christianity.

Same hate, different faith.

I am tired of reading stories comparing all Christians to Westboro or other extreme factions. Those factions do not reflect Christianity. Most are loving, kind individuals that only want to be left alone. Pat Robertson no more is reflective of the average Christian as Bin Laden was the example of the average Muslim.

Atheists. We as Americans pride ourselves as being tolerant. However, seven states have some codified ban on Atheism. Texas in its Constitution requires a belief in a Supreme Being to hold office in Texas. To some that might not sound offensive, but imagine if it required faith in Allah?

Same thing.

Then we have those in all factions that use their faith, or lack of, to enforce their dogma on others. Using the Bible or the Koran as an excuse to persecute, while calling being barred from harassing as some sort of persecution in itself.

Taking away your right to discriminate is not persecution

Under no circumstances should any American be allowed to use their belief as a reason to act on bigotry.

Which brings me to my last point today, free speech.

We might not like it, but hate speech is protected speech. I can talk smack on the Dallas Cowboys. Anyone can hurl racial or religious slurs. They are highly offensive and should be called out as wrong.

But we have no right to limit that speech. As much as we hate it, Tikki Torch Warriors have just as much right to spew their garbage as the black panthers or telemarketers. We hate to hear it, but it that right exists.

In the very end, rights exist for everyone. We do not have the power to curb those rights so long as they do not infringe on others.

This Fourth of July we should remember that our fallen heroes gave all for all of our rights.